Sunday, 25 July 2010

Top five pictures from this weekend

(I don't like the new way blogger is making me upload pictures.  It takes waaay longer, which means my posts these days are limited to how many pictures will upload straight from Picasa, plus maybe one more picture uploaded after the post is created.)

A little camping with cousins:

Carter loved the fire.  Here he is warming up in the morning, but like any healthy boy the fascination went further than this.

Carmen and Chloe were more fascinated by little Harrison.

The plus-five crowd went on a hike together to Bertha Falls - someone should have designed this bridge better so you can fit a group shot and the falls in a single picture, don't you think?

Jaclyn missed the group shot because she was the first to get her feet in the water.

Personally, I kept my feet dry (darn orthotics) and stuck to the shade to stay cool.

Saturday, 17 July 2010

Not a bad day for Miss Chloe

Chloe spent a few days in Waterton last week with a friend.  When she got home we gave her the message that the library had called to tell her that she was a winner in the first round of their summer reading program and to come on down and choose her prize!

She got to choose a book out of the prize bucket.  She wasn't too terribly impressed, but that may be my fault:  I told when she signed up that there were really good prizes.  Guess not.

Chloe's choice:  a *fact* book.

I've been working with Chloe for a while on learning to ride a two wheeler.  Chloe is gross-motor skills delayed (she needed physiotherapy at 5 years old to learn how to properly do stairs) but I was sure this was her year to learn to ride a bike.  Something just wasn't clicking and I couldn't figure it out, so I asked Ken to take her to the church parking lot this afternoon and work with her.  Ken armoured her up for confidence and in a matter of 15 minutes had her riding.

It turns out that what she was doing wrong was she was looking down at the bike and watching the front tire thinking that this was how to keep the bike upright.  Ken picked up on this immediately and told her to look ahead to where she was going.  That was all she needed!

So for the record, these are the ages the kids learned to ride two wheelers:

Jaclyn - 7 years old
Steven - 5 years old
Carmen - 3 years old
Chloe - 9 years old

(Why do I like all the years working out to be odd numbers?)

Sunday, 11 July 2010

I love summer

Because I feel like I get my family back.

We went camping at Beaver Flats this weekend.  It was supposed to be for two nights, but we only stayed for one.  I always used to say that I like camping because Ken turns into me (cooking, tidying the campsite . . . ) but now I think I love family camping because we are all together with no distractions.

(I even like having a dog when we're camping!)

We played fetch in the river till Flex was exhausted, maybe even to the point where it was dangerous - as in he was almost too tired to swim back to us on that last throw.

Jaclyn got Carmen hooked on Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

And Jaclyn taught Chloe how to make friendship bracelets with embroidery floss (Jaclyn was our own family YCL.)

Steven toasted the perfect marshmallow.

Carmen figured out a way to toast her marshmallow with the chocolate piece already inside.

Chloe and Jaclyn liked S'mores made with Nutella the best.  (Actually, Jaclyn liked just toasted marshmallows with the Nutella - no graham cracker.)

Chloe did a little whittling.

Did I mention it was Chloe's birthday on Saturday and this whole camping trip was her idea?  The kids gave her a science kit and Ken and I gave her leather bound scriptures, which she begged for.  I told her we save that gift for 14 years old before seminary starts in our family, but she argued that she has so many scriptures that are meaningful to her that she wants to mark in her permanent set of scriptures.  What else could we do but grant this birthday wish?

It rained on us Friday night, but we were warm and dry in our tents.  Saturday morning Ken made his famous *Krispy Kreme Kamping Pancakes* (as I call them because they are fried in butter) but I accidentally bought whole grain buttermilk pancake mix and they weren't the same as white flour Krispy Kreme pancakes.

We set out to hike to the Ice Caves, but some of us were really slow hikers.  Once again Jaclyn stepped up as the family YCL and kept the little girls singing and walking cheerfully along our way.  We got close enough to see our goal, but the weather was rolling in and we turned around and walked back (Steven felt this was a huge waste of the hiking we'd already done).  We made it back to our van moments before total downpour - which was lucky considering somehow Carmen thought someone else had packed her jacket when I said "Everyone pack yourselves a jacket" (???) and she was reduced to using a garbage bag for rain protection on our hike.

We let Chloe make the call choosing between sitting in our tents out of the rain for the rest of the day (with 6 hours of daylight to kill) or going home.  She chose to pack it in, so instead of baking her cake in a dutch oven with charcoal briquets (works like a charm) we went home, did laundry, and baked her cake the usual way.

She chose Peach Berry Cobbler.  And since we were home we had ice cream to go with it!

Sunday, 4 July 2010

New Regime

I lost it on my family two Fridays ago.  Or to be more correct, I lost it on each individual in my family at some point during the day (Ken's turn came at 11:30pm).  I was feeling overwhelmed, unappreciated, dumped-on.  You know.  There was plenty of warning this was coming - I could feel it building up.  I made a few cries for help:  "I'm not getting enough help around here!"  "I am seriously coming up with a chore chart for summer."  It's too bad I had to have a break-down before I was moved to action.  The next morning I got up at 8 a.m. and hammered out a system.

Every kid has a daily checklist that covers things I don't want to have to tell them every. single. time., as well as other responsibilities and chores around the house.  I call the checklist their 'ticket' because it is the ticket to whatever else they want to do that day.  Some days have longer tickets than others, here are some examples:

Chloe - Friday

 Brush & floss teeth
 Get dressed
 Tidy room
 Make bed
 Read B of M
 Daily Prayer
 Other reading
 Practice violin
 Practice 2-wheeler
 Basic math facts
 Water vegetable garden

Carmen - Sunday
 Brush & floss teeth
 Get dressed
 Tidy room
 Make bed
 Read B of M
 Daily Prayer
 Other reading
 Journal writing
 Article of Faith #2
 Prepare for FHE
Steven - Saturday
 Brush & floss teeth
 Get dressed
 Tidy room
 Make bed
 Read B of M
 Daily Prayer
 Blog post
 Learner’s license
 Sunday shirt

Jaclyn - Thursday
 Tidy room
 Make bed
 Read B of M
 Daily prayer
 Pack lunch
 Summer job
 Badminton with Steven
 Floss teeth
 Practice organ

The 'Zones' (name borrowed from the Eyre's chore system - have you read any of their books?) are rotated weekly and are, as follows:

Laundry Zone:
Monday: Help sort, wash, fold family clothes
Tuesday: Towels and bathmats
Wednesday: Jaclyn and Steven’s sheets
Thursday:  Carmen and Chloe’s sheets
Friday:  Mom and Dad’s sheets
Saturday:  Throw pillows and blankets
Floor Zone:
Monday:  Vacuum main floor and up the first 7 stairs
Tuesday:  Vacuum upstairs and top 7 stairs
Wednesday:  Mop upstairs bathrooms
Thursday:  Vacuum main floor and bottom 7 stairs
Friday:  Mop main floor
Saturday: Vacuum basement and wood stairs
Bathroom Zone:
Monday:  Mirrors and sinks
Tuesday:  Mom and Dad’s shower and tub
Wednesday: Toilets
Thursday: Kid’s tub
Friday: Garbages and wipe down front of drawers and cupboards
Saturday:  Polish up for Sunday
Cooking Zone:
Monday:  Meal plan
Tuesday: Grocery shop
Wednesday:  Make dinner and clean up prep dishes
Thursday:  Make lunch and clean up prep dishes
Friday:  Make dinner and clean up prep dishes
Saturday:  Make breakfast and clean up prep dishes

(As I made up the zones I wished I had more children for a garage zone, a backyard zone, a dusting zone, a back entrance zone . . .)

All of this is in a folder on the kitchen counter along with a list of habits to be improved (shoes on the shoe rack), grocery list the kids can add to (personal items and/or special requests), blank to-do lists for mom and dad that the kids can fill in, and a list of *money makers* (chores that can be done for pay like painting the trim around the deck).

We've done it for one week and so far so good.  The system will continue on into the school year - my hope is that it will be so natural by then that it won't be any additional burden when homework and school activities return.

We haven't had a chore system since Jaclyn and Steven were very small.  It's ridiculous that I have been doing (or closely directing) it all for years, and it's my own fault.